AskDefine | Define snowberry

Dictionary Definition

snowberry n : deciduous shrub of western North America having spikes of pink flowers followed by round white berries [syn: common snowberry, waxberry, Symphoricarpos alba]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. A shrub of the genus Symphoricarpos.
  2. The fruit of this shrub.

Extensive Definition

Symphoricarpos is a small genus of about 15 species of deciduous shrubs in the family Caprifoliaceae. All but one are natives of North America and Central America; the one remaining is from western China. Its common names in English are Snowberry and Waxberry. It is a member of the Honeysuckle Family, the Caprifoliaceae.
The leaves are 1.5–5 cm long, rounded, entire or with one or two lobes at the base. The flowers are small, greenish-white to pink, in small clusters of 5–15 together in most species, solitary or in pairs in some (e.g. S. microphyllus). The fruit are conspicuous, 1–2 cm in diameter, soft, varying from white (e.g. S. albus) to pink (S. microphyllus) to red (S. orbiculatus) and in one species (S. sinensis), blackish purple.
Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) is an important winter food source for quail, pheasant and grouse, but is considered poisonous to humans. The berries contain the isoquinoline alkaloid chelidonine, as well as other alkaloids. Ingesting the berries causes mild symptoms of vomiting, dizziness, and slight sedation in children.

Cultivation and uses

Common Snowberry is a popular ornamental shrub in gardens, grown for its decorative white fruit. There are two varieties, S. albus var. albus, native to eastern North America, and S. albus var. laevigatus native to the Pacific coast. The latter is a larger shrub, up to 2 m tall, and with slightly larger fruit; it is treated as a distinct species S. rivularis by some botanists.

References and external links

snowberry in Danish: Snebær
snowberry in German: Schneebeeren
snowberry in Spanish: Symphoricarpos
snowberry in French: Symphorine
snowberry in Galician: Symphoricarpos
snowberry in Upper Sorbian: Běły sněženc
snowberry in Lithuanian: Meškytė
snowberry in Polish: Śnieguliczka
snowberry in Portuguese: Symphoricarpos
snowberry in Ukrainian: Сніжноягідник
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